Man who sent explicit pictures to '13-year-old' gets suspended jail term

Ipswich Crown Court Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Thomas Jones received a suspended jail term at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

A 30-year-old former Felixstowe man who sent naked pictures to a decoy "13-year-old girl" in a police sting has been given a suspended prison sentence.

In conversations with an undercover police officer posing as the schoolgirl called ‘Charlotte’, Thomas Jones said he was thinking about her body and asked her to send him images of her in the shower, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Jones, formerly of Valley Walk, Felixstowe, admitted attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and attempting to cause a child to look at an image of sexual activity. 

He was given an eight-month prison sentence suspended for 24 months and ordered to do 150 hours unpaid work.

He was ordered to attend a 35-day sex offenders’ treatment programme and was given a 30 day rehabilitation activity requirement.

He was also made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order for ten years and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for the same period.

Sentencing him, Judge David Pugh said the offences were committed 21 months ago and Jones hadn’t reoffended since then.

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Tara McCarthy, prosecuting, said that between March 12  and April 9 last year Jones had discussed sexual acts and sent explicit pictures to a girl he believed to be 13. 

However, the person he was actually communicating with was a specialist undercover police officer and Jones was arrested. 

The court heard that Jones, now of Springfield Close, Weybourne, near Holt, Norfolk, had no previous convictions.

Alfred Underwood, for Jones, said there was no actual victim in the case as his client had been communicating with a decoy. 

He said Jones, who had worked at an amusement arcade, had struggled with his mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown and was put on furlough. 

Mr Underwood said Jones had been laid off and had struggled to find work since then.

He said Jones had a real fear of going to prison and had threatened to take his own life if he was given a custodial sentence.